NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio made an urgent plea for military aid to combat the coronavirus, as the number of confirmed cases in New York City surged to 3,615 on Thursday and the city increasingly becomes the epicenter of the crisis in the U.S.
The city’s death toll from the virus has risen to 22, doubling in the past day. The total number of cases nearly doubled as well, for the second straight day. De Blasio called the numbers “nothing short of staggering” and pressed President Donald Trump to mobilize the military to deliver crucial supplies — which the city could run out of in two to three weeks — and provide medical care.
“The fate of New York City rests in the hands of one man. He is a New Yorker. And right now, he is betraying the city he comes from,” de Blasio said.
New York is asking the federal government for 15,000 ventilators — which can be life-saving for coronavirus patients struggling to breathe — 3 million N95 masks, 50 million surgical masks, and 25 million each of surgical gowns, coveralls, gloves, and face masks.
“At this point there’s never been a greater no brainer in the history of the republic,” de Blasio told reporters. “It is beyond comprehension, it is immoral that our president has not ordered the military to full mobilization.”
Trump has invoked the Defense Production Act, which allows the president to order private industry to ramp up production in the interest of national security, but has said he does not plan to use his powers under the act at this time.
The city is now moving to release some inmates from Rikers Island starting as soon as Thursday, after the first inmate and correction officers at city jails tested positive for the coronavirus.
Officials have identified 40 inmates who should be let go, because they have health conditions or do not pose a public safety risk. That number is expected to grow. The NYPD and Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice will decide who merits release, and district attorneys or the state must sign off.
“It will keep growing as we review more cases,” de Blasio said.
An inmate who tested positive Wednesday is in his early 30s and has been placed in isolation, de Blasio said. Eight other inmates he was in contact with are now showing symptoms. Elected officials and advocates have raised alarms that the disease could spread rapidly in city jails.
In another measure to combat the virus, all nonessential city workers — some 250,000 people, or two thirds of the workforce — will begin working from home or be reassigned to essential duties as of Sunday.
“A lot of city offices will just shut down, because we came up with an alternative,” de Blasio said.
City workers have complained that they have not been allowed to work from home so far, even as the city has urged private employers to let their workers do so. The state has also ordered nonessential companies to slash their in person workforce by 75 percent.
The number of virus cases has spiked as expanded testing, still far short of where it should be, has begun to reveal the true scope of the virus’s spread. “We are seeing an explosion in the number of cases here in New York City,” de Blasio said.
Brooklyn is now leading the city in coronavirus cases with 1,030, followed by 980 in Queens and 976 in Manhattan.
There were 554 people hospitalized as of Wednesday evening, with 169 of those in the ICU.
After the city put out a call for retired and private practice doctors and nurses to volunteer to combat the epidemic, more than 1,700 providers have signed up.
The city is opening new testing centers at its public hospitals and clinics, officials announced Thursday. The centers — available by appointment only — are opening at ten hospitals run by the city, plus seven community health centers and four drive-through test sites.
With the new testing centers — housed in tents at public hospitals — the city is aiming keep people seeking tests out of swamped emergency rooms.
Eight of the ten centers at hospitals are already open — at Bellevue, Elmhurst, Harlem, Metropolitan, Kings County, Lincoln, Woodhull and Queens hospitals.
Across all of its sites, the city expects to be able to test at least 2,250 people a day. But patients must have an appointment, and will only be accepted if their symptoms are moderate to severe, they are over the age of 50, or they have existing health conditions that make the virus more dangerous.
Source Website De Blasio pleads with Trump for military aid amid ‘staggering’ spike in coronavirus c